August Hedge a gram
I'm looking forward to the publication of On Noah's Ark next month. In
keeping with my idea of showing my life as an author and illustrator, I'd like
to tell you what I'm working on. I'm writing my newsnotes that will accompany
my book through my Internet site and my list of friends who have written to
me. About twelve years ago, I sensed a need for a more detail explanation to
my letter answers. Teachers, librarians and kids write to me about "how did I
get the idea for a story?" or "do I do research?", and "Do my pets or children
appear in my stories?" I decided to write a letter called my "All About" letter
for each current book. I have read similar letters that Beatrix Potter, one of
the most loved children's authors/illustrators of all time, wrote to her niece.
My goal is for kids to know that being a published author doesn't make me all
that different. I still have lots of challenges to surmount and many happy
accomplishments to savor.
My focus in On Noah's Ark is the animals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians of
our beautiful earth. I made a very happy decision, which was to travel to
Africa in order to see the great land mammals interacting in their habitat. I
knew many of these; lions, hippos, giraffes, and elephants are fascinating to us
all. I was so enthralled that I've spent the last two weeks painting a diorama
of the Botswana Okavango Delta for the newsnotes. I looked in my dog-eared
guidebook and found that we had seen twenty seven amazing mammals and some
pretty spectacular birds too. It is more authentic to draw the animals on the
ark from my memory and from the photos we took.
It means a lot to me to be able to describe my thought process when creating
my book, because I just know there is a child out there that will muse, "I can
do that!" I know many of you have hidden talents. Often we grownups are
impressed with the vibrancy and freshness of children's drawing. I hope my
newsletter may tempt you to sit down and draw today.
In Africa, we met a most unusual and inspiring couple, Doug and Sandi
Groves. You can go to their Internet site, http//www.livingwithelephants.org
My husband, Joe, and I spent the day with them and their three semi-habituated
elephants. Those would be elephants that have a strong bond with humans, but
live a life of foraging and encounters like that of a wild elephant. Elephants
have a strong presence in my book, but the important lesson I learned from my
time with the Groves was how valuable and precious these animals are.
If there's a message in my retelling of Noah's Ark, I hope that it would be
the awe I feel being in the company of the complex, beautiful creatures of our
earth. My drawings are a way of reliving a life changing experience. As we can
see by Albrecht Durer's The Hare, a really talent artist can make an animal we
see everyday a breathtaking experience. I hope you and I can also touch
something elemental when we draw birds and animals with thoughtfulness.
Good luck, I'm off to finish the flying squirrel that will appear on the
first page of my newsnotes --
Happy drawing! Bye for now.